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Chop, Chop!
By Loki Luchs of

To chop or not to chop, that is the question; whether tis' nobler in the mind to endure the slings and arrows of angry opponents, or tis better to play hands you have no interest in…

In live cash games, there is a very common question of etiquette called chopping. Everyone has folded around to the small and big blinds, who then agree to take back their blinds and move on to the next hand. There are pros and cons to chopping. The positive, in short, is that the blinds get to break even and they can move along to the next hand. The negatives are that in many cases, the blinds will fold hands that they would normally play. Eventually, you'll have to lay down your pocket rockets while the other blind has 2/7.


The reason this becomes a question of etiquette is that a player should be consistent in their decision to chop. It shouldn't be "hey, I have big slick, I want to play this time." Either you chop all the time or you don't. This is a very common problem with beginners… they want the best of both worlds, which causes mayhem at the table that is completely unnecessary.

I have a very specific set of rules regarding chopping: If I'm at a full ring (7-10 players), I chop. If I'm at a small table (6 or less), I don't. The rationale is this: at a full ring game, in a hand against a single opponent, I'm probably wasting my own time. I'm not going to make any equity on almost any hand, so let's speed the game up and just move along. In a short-handed game, though, chopping is going to happen all the time. Half of the hands will end up getting chopped, so it's a waste of time since most flops will only have 2 or 3 players anyways. The first time I see someone chop at the table, I make sure to mention that to the players on either side of me. This way, they don't feel like I'm breeching etiquette when I chopped earlier with 7 people, and suddenly I won't when I'm down to 6.

I've found myself bending these rules during one other occasion, however. In casinos where they have high hand jackpots, it might be worth seeing the flop with your two cards. In this case, indicate to your opponent that you'd like to see a flop for the high hand. Be careful not to indicate what two cards you have are! Saying or showing what your hand is crosses the line with the casino and they won't award you if you do hit. When you see a flop, however, just agree to check it down. When you're lucky enough to make the hand, make sure you bet enough so that the pot qualifies for the jackpot. If you don't make your high hand, it is proper to give your opponent their money back, since they were only trying to help you win the prize money.

All in all, chopping is a very silly thing for people to argue about. While I have my principles about why to chop and when, I care more about keeping the peace. If your opponent has an adamant way of doing things, it's never wrong to let them have their way. Ask for a seat change and let them be someone else's problem!


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